SugarWrap rolls out sugarcane alternatives in Woolworths

Melbourne business SugarWrap has launched a range of sustainable sugarcane-based products for households. Consumers can buy the new range including eco-friendly zip lock bags, bin bags, freezer bags made entirely from sugarcane-based Bio-PE and corn PLA renewable products.

SugarWrap said the sugarcane used is grown every year using proper irrigation and sustainable processes. It helps reverse fossil fuel effects and lessens Greenhouse Gases.

The sustainable products are recyclable and the cling wrap also has an AS 5810:2010 Certified Compostable version.

The company said its mission is to find alternative products for plastics that are affordable and use sustainable design.

SugarWraps’ new range is sold at Woolworths, Harris Farm Markets, IGA, selected local grocers, as well as online.

SugarWrap's 90%

Energy Savers audit shows increased efficiency & major savings for Mackay farm

By CANEGROWERS Mackay

A cane farm at Seaforth near Mackay could see increased production yields and major energy cost savings, thanks to recommendations of an audit conducted by CANEGROWERS Mackay through the Energy Savers Plus Program Extension.

The audit is one of 180 farm energy audits completed on farms throughout Queensland under the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) program funded by the Queensland Government.

CANEGROWERS Mackay Chairman, Kevin Borg, said the energy audit program had been a great way for growers in the Mackay and Plane Creek regions to identify ways to reduce their farms’ energy consumption and costs at a time when energy and water prices are continuing to rise.

“With the help of CANEGROWERS Mackay’s agricultural economist, John Eden, and electrical engineer, Ron Coomer, the recommendations have been tailored to the needs of each particular cane farming business and have included a mix of more efficient equipment, introduction of solar energy and a tweaking of farm management practices,” said Mr Borg.

“Cash is tight in the industry at present because of low world sugar prices, and the cost of electricity and water, but some recommendations, such as checking that a pump is working efficiently or changing a tariff, are relatively inexpensive and can achieve impressive cost savings.

“Moreover, in this particular case, through purchasing new and second hand equipment and working to improve yields through more effective use of water and some farm management changes – to increase returns, not just reduce energy costs – the payback period for the total investment can be reduced to under two years.”

QFF Chief Executive Officer Dr Georgina Davis said the Energy Savers audits delivered options for farmers to reduce their energy consumption and Carbon emissions as well as make important bottom line savings and productivity gains with the assistance of a co-contribution grant.

“More positive results are expected as the program moves to an implementation phase. We encourage participants to consider their farm audit and take up the available rebate to make improvements and realise energy savings.”

Mackay cane farm audit

Harvesting 9500 tonnes of cane a year, the 144 ha Mackay farm is statistically above the zonal average for the region. However, interrogation of the available farm data found that even though yields in this zone have remained consistent over the past 10 years, there has been a slight decrease on this particular farm due to the crop mix being weighted towards older ratoons. Changes in rainfall distribution across the district in recent years have not helped, and the irrigation infrastructure on the farm has proved unable to meet crop demand at critical times.

The grower had been using a 10 cm (4 inch) winch irrigator driven by two dam pumps which delivers water at a constant high pressure. The audit recommended introducing two variable speed drives (VSDs) on the pumps as well as replacing one of the pumps with a more efficient pump with a higher flow rate to enable the operation of two low pressure booms working in tandem.

For a total investment of around $47,000 to purchase two second hand low pressure booms and install the VSDs, the estimated energy savings are expected to be 30,710 kWh per year at a cost saving of $7,979 per year, paying back the investment in under six years.

In addition, the audit recommended a 30 kW ground-mounted solar system to provide an offset against running the pumps continuously on the grid and to increase savings because of the ability to irrigate during the day. The audit factored in the export of energy to the grid when the farmer is not irrigating, further lowering his energy bill.

This investment of around $21,000 (after Small-scale Technology Certificate rebates) would be paid back within 3.5 years thanks to energy savings of 60,000 kWh and cost savings of $6,002 per year. The audit also recommended an immediate tariff change from T62 to a combination of T20 and T33, saving a further $1,635 per year.

Due to the restructure of the irrigation infrastructure and improved efficiencies there is now the ability to increase water use from 159 ML to 265 ML. Water Use Efficiency has improved from 7.7 t/ML to 8.8 t/ML. The grower has the added benefit of irrigating the crop up to the sixth ratoon profitably. This compares with the situation prior to the audit, when irrigation returns were negative after the third ratoon.

By following all recommendations of the audit, pumping costs across all systems would be reduced on average from $117.73 per ML to around $37.89 per ML, even with the increase in water use from 1 ML/ha to 2 ML/ha.

Best of all, thanks to the productivity gains, the expected payback period for the total estimated costs of all improvements decreases from 4.7 to 1.6 years, and with a Return on Investment of 64 per cent.

For more information about the Energy Savers Plus Program Extension program or how to improve your on-farm energy efficiency, visit the website: www.qff.org.au/energysavers or contact the energy savers team by email: energysavers@qff.org.au.

The Energy Savers Plus Program Extension is delivered by the Queensland Farmers’ Federation with support and funding from the Queensland Government.

Sugar harvest in North Queensland hits halfway mark

The sugarcane crushing season is nearing the halfway mark in North Queensland, with Wilmar’s eight mills having processed over 45 per cent of the estimated crop.

Wilmar’s mills had last week processed 6.82 million tonnes of cane of the estimated 15.07 million tonne crop.

Cane supply and grower relations general manager Paul Giordani said improved weather conditions in recent weeks had enabled both the harvesting and milling sectors to make good headway.

It comes after wet weather delayed the start of the 2020 crush across all growing regions.

Mr Giordani said five consecutive weeks of fine weather had resulted in good throughput in the Herbert, where 1.83 million tonnes of cane had been crushed.

It is expected the district will have crushed 2 million tonnes of the estimated 4.16 million later this week.

He said CCS levels had taken a favourable jump to 13.65 in recent weeks and the crop was holding to estimate.

Similarly on the Burdekin, a run of fine weather has seen cane quality improve and the average CCS has climbed above 15 units.

“Our Burdekin mills are achieving good crushing rates overall,” Mr Giordani said.

As of last week, the district had crushed 3.75 million tonnes of the estimated 8.04 million and they were expected to hit the halfway mark this week.

At Proserpine, the mill is achieving weekly throughputs above 90,000 tonnes.

Mr Giordani said CCS had jumped above 14 units over the past fortnight and continued to rise steadily.

With 678,000 tonnes of the estimated 1.62 million tonnes crushed, Mr Giordani said the crop was cutting just below estimate.

At Plane Creek, CCS steadily increased to 14.04 units last week but is trending below budget.

“Our focus in the coming weeks will be on maintaining rate as CCS approaches bottleneck levels,” Mr Giordani said.

They have crushed 564,000 tonnes of the estimated 1.25 million tonne crop.

Collaborative partnership to help industry control greyback cane grubs

Sugarcane growers have a new tool in their toolbox to manage one of the industry’s primary crop pests, Greyback Canegrub.

The new publication, the Greyback Canegrub Management manual, provides comprehensive information on managing this significant pest, which affects all sugarcane growing regions between Plane Creek in Central Queensland to Mossman in Far North Queensland.

The work occurred as part of a collaboration between Sugar Research Australia (SRA), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, CANEGROWERS, the Australia Cane Farmers Association, Bayer Crop Science and Nufarm Limited. It is funded by the Queensland Reef Water Quality Program through the Enhanced Extension Coordination project.

SRA Regional Coordinator for the Central Region, Phil Ross, said that the manual provided practical and current information for growers, which will assist the industry in managing a key economic pest and also in stewardship of the insecticide chemical, imidacloprid.

“Imidacloprid represents the sugar industry’s best canegrub management tool and proper stewardship of this chemical is vital for the ongoing viability of cane farming in the 50 percent of soils where canegrub damage is common,” Mr Ross said.

“The manual and the broader project have looked at the best practice use of imidacloprid to ensure the industry’s ongoing access to imidacloprid as a control for cane grubs. SRA has collaborated on the ground with productivity services companies to understand the current on-ground practices and to develop strategies to help the industry to continue to improve grub management.

“For example, the project considered key aspects of grub control such as the determination of when to use the chemical, correct placement, and using the chemical only for grub control.”

The manual has been distributed to all growers between Plane Creek and Mossman with the Spring edition of CaneConnection magazine. It is also available online via the SRA website (https://sugarresearch.com.au/sra-information/publications/) or additional copies can be sourced by contacting Phil Ross on pross@sugarresearch.com.au or 0477 318 897.

“Through this project we’ve identified practical opportunities to work with the industry to continue to improve efficiency and sustainability. This will lead to economic outcomes through improved input efficiency and effective grub control, and sustainability outcomes through improving water quality.”

Scholarship available for engineering students in sugar mills

ENGINEERING students have the chance to work in Australian sugar mills under a unique scholarship program.

The Australian Sugar Industry Scholarship enables Australian undergraduate engineering students in their final two years of study to gain experience during three paid placements in the sugar milling industry.

The scholarship is sponsored by Sugar Research Institute and Sugar Research Australia and run in conjunction with Australia’s sugar milling companies.

SRI learning and development manager Bruce King said successful candidates would work at three of Australia’s 24 sugar mills over an 18-month period.

Mr King said sugar mills provided an excellent learning environments for young engineers.

“Successful students gain valuable insight into cane supply, cane milling, sugar production, and steam and power generation, while helping to keep factories processing at optimum operational levels,” Mr King said.

“Students working at Wilmar Sugar’s mills have been involved with projects like locomotive reverse transmission rebuilds, diffuser performance monitoring and data analysis, water injection system reviews, and more.

Scholarship recipient Owen Engler, pictured at Wilmar's Pioneer Mill, is from the Gold Coast and is studying at QUT.

 Scholarship recipient Owen Engler, pictured at Wilmar’s Pioneer Mill, is from the Gold Coast and is studying at QUT.

“They leave the program with a well-rounded education about engineering and a deep appreciation for the industry.”

Wilmar Sugar has backed the scholarship since it began in 2016.

General manager operations Mike McLeod said it was one of the most complete programs available to engineering students.

“There’s a diverse range of work on offer inside our sugar mills and the scholarship gives students practical exposure to different systems and processes,” Mr McLeod said.

“They also work alongside some of the best and most experienced engineers in the industry.”

Mr McLeod said the sugar industry had plenty of opportunities for young engineers wanting to start a career.

“The sugar industry contributes about $4 billion in economic activity to Australia each year.

“We’re a big, innovative industry with a bright future.”

Mr King said scholarship recipients would receive financial support in addition to the onsite learning, leadership building, mentoring and networking opportunities.

“Successful applicants will be paid at industry rates during their four-week placements.

“They will also receive a $250 living away from home allowance and a $2,500 bonus for satisfactory completion of the program,” Mr King said.

Electrical, mechanical, chemical or process engineers in their penultimate year of study are encouraged to apply.

Applications for the 2021 program open on October 26.

Sclerotial Sett Rot Disease

SRA has published a new information sheet on our website on a recently identified disease of sugarcane – sclerotial sett rot (SSR).

SSR was first identified in 2016 at the SRA Woodford Pathology Farm on sugarcane setts sent for disease resistance screening trials. Up until now, it has not been reported anywhere else in the world. 

SSR affects sett germination and kills young plants, but it is unclear whether SSR is present in commercial sugarcane farming systems in Australia.

Information is currently being sought on whether SSR has been observed in commercial sugarcane crops in the Australian sugar industry.